Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Met a McCain/Palin Supporter Today

(A little background: I work in retail.)

So, one of my customers is starting a pile of things on the counter that she's going to buy. Another customer, a young woman with her husband (both probably in their twenties), walks up to the counter to make a purchase and, as I'm ringing her up, she picks up one of the items in the other customer's pile. It's an Obama action figure.

"What's this for?" she asks, voice lilting. "Slamming to the floor?"

I look at her. I notice her husband is smiling nervously and shifting from foot to foot.

"I mean," she continues, her voice nothing but sweetness, "I just pray for our country if he's elected."

At this point I should make a couple observations. First, it's not completely unheard of for someone to make a snide comment to me. They're having a bad day, we don't have something in stock they were looking for or they don't like the crinkled bill I gave them in change. The reasons and topics are endlessly varied. Usually I figure the comment is not directed at me, anyway and so I don't take it personally. I ignore it and the person gives me their money and leaves. But this woman was being deliberately provocative. Here she is, in a store with a captive audience and she is going to make the most of it. Secondly, I did not include below some of the side jibber-jabber from the husband, but little hints were dropped along the way about how much flack they've received from people in the city about the car they drive, comments they've endured about where they're from, how close-minded some people are to certain views, etc. Persecution complex all the way.

"Your total is $22.74," I say, ignoring her comment altogether. Then her dipshit husband chimes in. I guess I may have spoken a little quickly, or maybe there was a note of nervousness in my voice or maybe he was trying to diffuse the situation with his own brand of humor. I don't know.

"Oh, he's giving us the bum's rush!" he chuckles.

"That's the wonderful thing about this country, the freedom to speak your mind," she says.

I'm feeling very uncomfortable now. It's just not professional behavior for me to engage in this. Very inappropriate of her to do this, but now she senses blood in the water. So I agree, "Sure! You can believe whatever you want!" Then, attempting to address the "bum's rush" comment I say, "I'm sorry, were you still looking around? Take your time!"

"Do you have a McCain action figure?" she says.

I get asked this on occasion. I want to say no, but I have an idea for one. It would be poseable so you could put it into stress positions and it comes with a little metal box that you can put Johnny into if he's bad, with "Hanoi Hilton" stenciled on the side. What's the matter? I imagine asking. You don't find that funny? I don't either, but this administration claims that nothing McCain went through as a POW could be considered torture, so it must be he simply sat out the Vietnam war being pampered by his North Vietnamese hosts, right?

But instead I say, "No. He's not as popular." However, at this point I've finally had it with this woman who still hasn't made a move to pay me. "All I know is, if McCain is elected, I'm leaving the country."

"Oh now," says the jovial dunderhead husband, looking definitely uncomfortable, "I bet if we come back in a few months, we'll still find you here."

The woman has finally handed me her credit card. "Well, that's what I'm hoping for. I don't want to live in a country that's been taken over by the religious right."

Wrong. Thing. To. Say.

The woman's eyes light up. "Well, why do you think they wrote so much about God in the Constitution?"

"God is not mentioned once in the Constitution. Sign here."

"It's on all our money."

"That was added almost a century after the birth of the nation. " *

Then, oddly, she revisited the "freedom of speech" motif. "Isn't it great that we have freedom to speak our minds? I'm going to pray for you. Is that all right if I pray for your soul?" It was framed as a question but delivered as a threat.

"You can do and say whatever you want. Just make sure you have your facts straight, first."

"Ohhhhhhhh....ho ho ho ho ho..." intoned the eunuch by her side. "Okay, bye then."

"Bye. Have a nice day. Hope you change your mind."

"Not likely," she sneered as she scooped up her bag and made for the door.

"I'm pro-life."



Customer A, the one who was buying the Obama action figure, said that she was really impressed with the way I handled the situation.

I can tell you that the next encounter with such an ignoramus who thinks that because I have nowhere to go s/he can say whatever s/he wants will not be so civil. This was a game-changer. I have never encountered anything like this in fifteen years in retail. Even four years ago when we sold a dozen styles of anti-Bush magnet and the "Smush Bush" stress toy, Bush supporters would generally just roll their eyes and laugh it off.

It's as if Sarah Palin has emboldened these knuckleheaded Neanderthals to go into the world and do "god's work" even if that means pinning the salesperson behind the counter while simultaneously provoking attacks and acting like the victim.

I can just imagine those two going back to their trailer park and telling the neighboring shut-ins about their harrowing experiences in the big city and how horribly rude everyone there is.

The next time someone asks if they can pray for me, I'm going to ask them to devote an entire day to the activity. November 4th. Don't even leave the house, just pray for me all day, 'cause that's what it's gonna take, baby.

I was amazed that the woman even completed her transaction. Especially after I suggested she might want to make sure she get her facts straight.

*IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.

IN GOD WE TRUST was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate.

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